The sudden resignation on Wednesday of Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs paves the way for the ascension of Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who, upon being named Apple’s new CEO, was hailed by many in the LGBT community as possibly the world’s most powerful gay executive.
Cook, 50, who has remained private about his sexual orientation, was outed earlier this year by Gawker when it named him “the most powerful gay man in Silicon Valley.”
After Cook was profiled as a “lifelong bachelor” and “intensely private” elsewhere, we wondered if he might be gay. We’ve since heard from two well-placed sources that this is indeed the case, and it sounds like Cook’s sexual orientation has been the topic of at least some discussion within the company.
Cook would be, by far, the most powerful openly gay executive in tech, trailed by Microsoft’s openly lesbian HR chief Lisa Brummel and by Megan Smith, the former PlanetOut CEO now working as Google’s vice president of new business development.
And though he has never publicly announced that he is gay, Out magazine subsequently ranked Cook number one in their Power 50 index, an annual list of the most influential members of the LGBT community.
If Cook — often described as the genius behind Jobs and a key to the success of Apple’s operations — is in fact gay, and comes out publicly, he would instantly become the most recognizable role model for LGBT people in the corporate world.
Established in April 1976 in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is one of the largest companies in the world by market capitalization and the most valuable technology company in the world, ahead of Microsoft, with worldwide annual sales of more than $65 billion.
In 2008, Apple publicly opposed Proposition 8 — California’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage — and donated $100,000 to the “No on 8” campaign.
Jobs will remain at Apple as Chairman of the Board and Cook will join the Board, effective immediately.